Who doesn’t love a good podcast? Over recent years, podcasts — covering everything from murder mysteries to comedy sketches — have exploded in popularity. And, if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already thought about starting your own podcast.
Not only are these audio files convenient to consume, but the stories they tell have a unique level of depth and personality. After all, without visuals, podcasts have to rely on powerful storytelling to make connections with their audience. You can pick and choose anything from the strange to the educational to target your listeners’ niche interests. In fact, podcasts allow you to explore topics not typically aired in mainstream media. For those of us who are constantly on the move, podcasts offer an easy, hands-free way to get information. That’s much better than listening to 20 percent news and 80 percent ads all day, right?
For these and many other reasons, podcasts have become increasingly popular. In fact, Edison Research estimates that around 57 million Americans listen to podcasts every month, and that number is steadily rising. Clearly, starting a podcast is a great way to connect with your target audience, whether that’s a loyal fan base or potential new clients. As a freelancer, you have the opportunity to harness your stories to expand your reach and connect with your current audience on a deeper level.
Why Should You Consider Starting Your Own Podcast?
Whether you’re just starting out freelancing or have years of experience under your belt, you can use podcasts to reach your audience in a whole new way. After all, scientific studies have shown that we react faster to auditory material than we do to visual material. If that’s not enough to get you interested, here are three ways your freelance business can benefit from starting your own podcast.
1. Make More Valuable Connections
By starting a podcast, you can expand your contact network and gain new leads. As podcaster Jerod Morris says: “No matter what you sell — a product, a service, an experience, information, an idea, yourself, something else — you need your target audience to know you, like you, and trust you before they’ll buy it. Podcasting is the best way I have found to build the know, like and trust factors online across a broad audience.”
Kaye Putnam from marketing firm Infinitus has also used podcasting to gain new clients. “Producing a podcast has been an extraordinary way to ‘walk our talk’ and attract new clients,” she says. “Audio content is extremely personal. People get to know our style, values and personalities by listening to the podcast, which shortens the sales process.”
2. Develop Your Marketable Skills
Embarking on a podcast is a great way to develop new marketable tech skills, like recording and audio editing. You can start small when it comes to equipment — your laptop or phone can record audio — and grow your skills from there. If you don’t have any previous podcasting experience, don’t worry: You can figure it out along the way!
An added bonus? For those of us who dread public speaking, podcasting can be an ideal way to develop important presentation skills — ones that you can tuck away for future conversations with clients. Simply recording oneself and playing it back can help slow down fast talkers, knock out those filler “ums” and “errs” and put a stop to mumbling.
3. Monetize Your New Creative Outlet
At the end of the day, creating a podcast is a great way to grow your business. If you discover that your podcast is becoming more and more popular, you may even have the opportunity to monetize your creative efforts. Many successful podcasts work with sponsors and affiliates to fund the production of episodes. If you get to this point, you will have the opportunity to partner with companies that are specifically aligned with your values and work.
You’ve Taken the Plunge: Now, How Do You Make Your Podcast a Success?
Of course, starting your own podcast isn’t easy — and it requires a great deal of time and effort on your part. But if and when you find that winning formula, all the hard work will be worth it.
Comedian Marc Maron, host of the podcast known as WTF, wasn’t always as successful as he is now. In fact, he started his podcast out of his garage when he was broke and careerless. The podcast gave him a medium to speak freely and seek advice. In many ways, this is why his podcast gained such a wide audience — he was personally and emotionally invested in what he was speaking about from day one.
Want some more advice from podcasters who’ve made it big? Ira Glass, successful radio broadcaster and host of one of the most popular podcasts of all time, This American Life, suggests that you find somebody who’s done it before and have them listen in and offer feedback. His second tip? Make sure you hone in on a really sharp and specific concept.
All good stories take planning, so carefully consider how you want to tell yours. Do you want to interview others or create a monologue-style narrative? No matter what you choose, storyboard your ideas from beginning to end. How will you grab your listener’s attention, and what key takeaways do you want your audience to leave with? Experiment with a single episode first, and don’t neglect promotion — share your podcast widely.
Businesses thrive on creativity and innovation. Starting your own podcast is a great way to sharpen your tech and creative chops, while identifying and leveraging the unique stories you have to tell.